Rookie pro bull rider Tsosie builds experience, reputation in regional rodeos
By Quentin Jodie
GRANTS, N.M., June 17, 2011
(Times photo - Leigh T. Jimmie)
"I didn't get entered," Tsosie said, after winning an open bull-riding event sponsored by Casper Baca last weekend.
The 19-year-old bull rider would have been one of the favorites to challenge for the $9,000 Final Four ride-off at this year's Lions Club Rodeo, but after getting his dates mixed up Tsosie will have to sit this one out.
"I wanted to go in as a walk-in, but I was a week late," he said. "I heard the jackpot is really high this year and I wished I had entered."
Yet that fact didn't bring him down as he was the only rider to cover both of his bulls at the June 11 event inside the Grants rodeo grounds.
After riding See Stars for 77 points in the first round, Tsosie picked up where he left off and got the same score on a bull they call Squirrel.
"I thought the second one was a lot stronger," Tsosie said of Squirrel. "He made me work because he kind of got me pinned."
That final ride was key in getting Tsosie the top prize of $600 as Bryan Frost was the only other rider to cover a bull. Frost took home $400 with his 76-point ride on Sugar Bowl while Tsosie finished the two round aggregate with 144 points.
"Well, he's a pretty good bull rider and he came to ride," Baca said of Tsosie. "When I seen the two bulls he drew I knew he'd probably win the whole thing."
And for the most part, Tsosie handled himself well.
"Casper has some good bulls, but I don't think we saw his top bulls," Tsosie said, making reference to the bull they call Soul Shaker.
Two weeks ago at the Mega Bucks bull riding, Tsosie broke the arena record at Red Rock Park with a 93-point ride but in the short round Soul Shaker got the best of him.
"I got on two times and he bucks really hard," he said. "After that first ride I thought I could ride him, but I kind of miscalculated him the second time."
But to him it's all part of the game as his riding percentage fluctuates from week to week.
"You can never be perfect," Tsosie said. "And sometime it goes up and down, but as long as I gave it my best ride I'm pretty satisfied."
Tsosie got his start riding calves at six years old and over the years he's evolved into one of the reservation's most accomplished bull riders.
"I don't know why I never rode a sheep," Tsosie mused. "We had them around when I was growing up, but the first one I got on was a calf and then I rode steers."
And at age 15 he got onto to his first bull.
"I got bucked off a couple times," he said, "but I was excited about riding bulls and I wanted to see what I could do on them."
Nowadays, Tsosie has rode just about every bull from small athletic ones to big stock ones and has equal respect for them.
"They all have their styles," he said. "And when I get bucked off I just have to tip my hat off to them."
Recently he's seen the best of them while competing in the Professional Bull Riders association. In 2009, Tsosie was invited to the Ty Murray Invitational in one of the PBR's top tier events, the Built Ford Tough Series, and covered one of the three bulls.
"They called me up and left a message on my phone," he said. "It was my first time riding in one of those events and they had some of the meanest, rankest bulls there."
And then in early May, Tsosie got another invitation and competed in the Des Moines Invitational after qualifying in a challenger event in Prescott Valley.
"It was just me and another guy that rode down there and I ended up first so I got invited," he said.
He and his brother-in-law drove out to Des Moines and after three days of riding he finished 11th in the first round with an 84-point ride, 4.5 points behind round winner Travis Briscoe.
And although he didn't win any money he's said the experience will make him a better bull rider in the long run.
In fact, he's making noise in the PRCA with a second-place position in the Turquoise Circuit with $7,402 behind Sanders, Ariz., bull rider Tustin Daye.
"This is my rookie season and so far things are looking up," Tsosie said. "After this year I'm thinking about going hard at it next year."
But for now, he's soaking up what he can because at 19 years old, he has so much to look forward to.